Ignoring What Is Important

It is almost unfathomable to me that during the three presidential debates, there was not one question about the most urgent issue of the day, climate change. As David Orr, an Oberlin professor, has said, “Whatever your cause, it’s a lost cause on a dying planet.”

Now it is reported that Myron Ebell, a notorious climate-change denier, is leading the transition of the Environmental Protection Agency, transforming it into the Environmental Destruction Agency. Unlike much of the harm a Trump administration might do, this harm threatens to be irreversible.
- James Van Cleve, Letter to the Editor, NYT, Nov. 15, 2016 [In response to Henry Fountain, Trump’s Climate Contrarian: Myron Ebell Takes On the E.P.A., NYT, Nov. 11, 2016]

Failure to understand and respond appropriately to climate change results both from ignoring an important threat and mismatch between people's mental skills and those needed to cope with a complicated issue:

But climate change is a slow-building, largely invisible threat, hard to explain or demonstrate to the general public — which is one reason lavishly funded climate deniers have been so successful at obfuscating the issue.
- Paul Krugman, Trump and Pruitt Will Make America Gasp Again, NYT, Dec. 9, 2016

Here is a random and all too typical example of what Americans are paying attention to in the early 20th century:

- Hold your glass at a 45° angle. Pour the beer, targeting the middle of the slope of the glass. Don't be afraid to pour hard or add some air between the bottle and glass.
- At the halfway point bring the glass at a 90° angle and continue to pour in the middle of the glass. This will induce the perfect foam head. And remember, having a head on a beer is a good thing. It releases the beer's aromatics and adds to the overall presentation. You may also want to gradually add distance between the bottle and glass as you pour, to also inspire a good head.
- An ideal head should be 1" to 1-1/2".
- https://mineshaftbrewingpc.com/happy-holidays-from-msb-dec-2016/

People, we need to remember that the nation, and the world, faces serious issues in healthcare, education, energy, environment, economy, immigration, foreign policy, national security, science and technology, industrial policy and defense. These are serious, substantive issues which affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people in North America and billions more around the world.

We can't let the recurring saga of "The Donald Trump Comedy Hour" distract us from what needs to be done to ensure the well-being of our nation and the world more generally. Let's try ignore all the noise, the chatter from the talking heads. Let's focus on what's important.
- Comment by "Walker, New York" on MAGGIE HABERMAN, MICHAEL D. SHEAR and GLENN THRUSH, Trump Removes Anthony Scaramucci From Communications Director Role, NYT, July 31, 2017

Think back to the poison discovered in a handful of tainted Tylenol pills in 1982. Every bottle of Tylenol in America was immediately recalled; in Chicago, police went into neighborhoods with loudspeakers to warn residents of the danger. That was in response to a scare that killed, in total, seven people. In 2016, 20,000 people died from overdosing on synthetic opioids, a form of poison in the illicit drug market. Some lives, it would appear, are several degrees of magnitude more valuable than others. Some lives are not worth saving at all.
- Andrew Sullivan, The Poison We Pick, New York Magazine, February 2018

It has come down to this with a few weeks to go until the March 29 deadline for Britain to leave the European Union, as it voted to do almost three years ago: a jumble of jargon, jousting and gibberish, with everyone sucked into the vortex of confusion, to the exclusion of every other issue in the world.
- Roger Cohen, Britain in the Crazed Brexit Vortex, NYT, Feb. 22, 2019

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